Just how popular is socialism in America? The majority of millennials are in favor of it. CNN has tweeted about Martin Luther King being a socialist before it was cool to be one. Socialism seems to be the current rage – among those who enjoy all the fruits of capitalism and protection of free speech.
While the wealth created by capitalism is now deemed to be hurtful and unfair, very little is heard about the 20 million people starved and killed under Stalin’s regime. Twenty percent of millennials consider Stalin a hero, and the media does little to dissuade them from this view. Nor does the educational system, which is eager to label American wealth as “white privilege.” History is being glossed over in favor of ideology. Sadly, today’s millennials are more ignorant of history rather than malicious. What is the excuse of teachers and the popular media?
One of the biggest confusion is that socialism and communism are different ideologies. The former may relate more to economics, while the latter is a political system. But, they both include a centralized government as a major tenet, and centralized control is only possible if citizens are denied individual rights. Socialism and communism are both totalitarian regimes that are spelled differently but function alike. It’s where a few elite despots determine the means of production, free speech must be squelched, and no opposition can be tolerated.
If Stalin seems too remote for millennials to grasp, Venezuela exists in the here and now, a graphic example of a socialist paradise. Over the past decades, Venezuela has moved from “mild” socialism and reasonable comfort to radical socialism and abject poverty. Banks and many companies are already state-owned. Private property may soon become illegal. (Would any millennial advocating socialism give up his or her capitalistic iPad and Pizza?)
Venezuela’s political shift has resulted in hyperinflation and hospitals and schools that no longer function. Sixty-eight percent of people do not have health insurance. There are long lines to purchase anything that might still be available, except that few can afford to buy. Over 60 percent of citizens live in extreme poverty. Starvation is common. What little food that can be found is meted out through government distribution. Some lucky people may find garbage for sustenance. The contents of American capitalist trash cans would be a gourmet dinner in Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro has proposed a solution to Venezuela’s hunger problem. Bred pet rabbits, then eat them. Like any socialist government, Venezuela has fostered a dependence on the government, only to be unable to meet the needs of the dependents. It is running out of cash and will likely default on many of its global debts.
In Venezuela, there are young people, Venezuela’s millennials who call themselves “la Resistencia.” They are attempting an opposition. When caught, many have been executed. It would be interesting and educational if both Venezuela’s and America’s millennials could get together and compare notes. But in the US, millennials are too busy advocating for a socialist Eden to see what is happening south of the border.
The common argument for Americans advocating socialism is that we should all look at Europe, where so-called ideal socialist models provide for all of their citizens’ needs. There is only one problem with that argument. These European countries are not socialist. The governments do not own the means of production. These countries are filled with creative entrepreneurs. What they are is a weak form of capitalism offering a huge and expensive safety net.
Being a socialist in America used to be something to be ashamed of. But one of this country’s most popular politicians, Bernie Sanders, has picked up the socialist banner with a vengeance, much to the delight of his many millennial followers. These are young people facing enormous student debts and a widening income inequality. They regard capitalism with suspicion and socialism as the solution to their woes. Unfortunately, they have little idea of how either system works, or what the consequences of implementing socialism will be. They are too busy with their computer games, which citizens of socialist countries can only dream about.
How cool is socialism. Ask a Venezuelan. Or his pet rabbit.